It’s best to prepare fresh mussels as soon as possible, preferably within a day of purchasing. You can either freeze mussels uncooked or cooked.
The right and proper way to freeze mussels is:
- Clean them
- Drain the mussels and wash them under running water.
- Cook the mussel or freeze them raw.
- Proceed to freeze the mussels in a resealable, heavy-duty plastic.
- Frozen mussels should be prepared/consumed within three months of freezing.
How to freeze mussels the right way
Mussels are a delicacy that spoils very quickly. Contaminated mussels are very dangerous. Proper handling and storage are necessary to ensure that mussels remain fresh.
The procedure for storing raw mussels and cooked mussels is similar. However, for cooked mussels, you do not need to make sure that the mussels are still alive before freezing.
The first step in freezing fresh mussels is to make sure the mussels are properly cleaned. Fresh mussels should be alive when frozen. The mussels can be stored in a resealable, freezer-safe plastic bag. Live mussels will die in the freezer. However, they are still safe to eat.
Cooked mussels, on the other hand, are easier and safer to store.
How do you prepare mussels before freezing
The freezing method depends on whether the mussels are cooked or fresh. The methods are quite similar when it comes to the actual storage of the mussels, but the preparation before storage is different.
Step one – Tools
The first step is to prepare the proper tools for the job. Prepare a bowl of water in which to place the shells. The size depends on the amount of mussels that need to be cleaned. You can also use smaller bowls if you clean the mussels in batches. Alternatively, you can place the mussels in a colander in the sink. Run water over the mussels during the cleaning process.
Use a steel brush or a small knife to scrub away any grit from the mussel shell or other debris such as barnacles, algae, mud stains or sand. Mussels have tough fibers that they use to cling to rocks. These fibers, which sprout from the mussel shell, are tufts of hair-like fibers. Removing the fibers is a process known as debearding. To cut off the fibers, you will need scissors or a sharp knife.
Best knife for scraping, cutting fibers and overall cleaning mussels is a small sturdy knife like this one:
- Dimensions: 7.1 inch (18 cm) overall length with a blade length of 3.1 inches (7.9 cm) and a weight of 3.5 ounces
- Durable: Blade is made of reliable 7Cr17MoV Black Oxide High Carbon Stainless Steel with a black, aluminum handle
- Dependable: Quick and easy access with the convenient pocket clip, finger flipper and ambidextrous thumb knobs making it ideal for everyday carry
- Secure: Have confidence that the blade will not slip with the security of the liner lock
Last update on 2021-11-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Step two – Cleaning
It is important to clean mussels properly before storing them. Most mussels are farmed mussels and usually arrive fairly clean. You still need to clean them before freezing the fresh mussels.
Wild clams contain many contaminants and need to be cleaned thoroughly. Use a scrubber to remove the impurities. Gently scrub the mussel, applying more pressure to areas that have more debris. This should be done under running water in a colander or in a clean bowl with fresh water.
The process itself can be quite messy. Assign a work area for cleaning if you do not want to get the kitchen counter dirty. To debeard the mussel, hold it between your thumb and forefinger. Pull the fibers toward the hinge of the mussel or use a knife to gently scrub the fibers away.
If there are any open mussels in the batch, gently tap them against the counter. If the shell closes, the mussels are still alive. If the shell remains open, the mussel is dead. Open mussels that do not close should be discarded.
Step three – Washing
After a thorough cleaning, the mussels should be soaked in saltwater for about 20 minutes. The mussels filter the water and dispose of the sand as they inhale during the washing process. 20 minutes is enough to ensure that the mussels have less sand and salt stored in the shell of the mussel.
This cleanses the mussels and improves the eating experience. Nothing spoils a good mussel dish more than the taste and texture of sand in the mouth.
Step four – Boiling
If you want to prepare the mussels before storing them in the freezer, consider the size of the pot or wok you are using. The mussels should be semi-submerged in water during this step. The pot or wok should be large enough to hold the water and the mussels without boiling over.
The water should be boiling before you add the mussels to the pot. Cover the pot/wok with a lid. Reduce the heat to medium and stir occasionally until all the mussels have opened. Alternatively, chefs and seafood experts recommend steaming the mussels to prepare them. This is because mussels naturally release water during the cooking process and therefore do not require much water when preparing them.
Step five – Discarding bad mussels
Most, if not all, mussels should open during the cooking process. Wait until the mussels have cooled a bit before proceeding. Drain the mussels and excess water into a metal strainer in the sink. Gently strain the mussels, looking for any that did not open during the cooking process.
Be careful as the mussels will still be very hot and may cause you to burn your hands or fingers. Swirl the mussels in the colander to shake them around and find unopened mussels. Mussels will be open completely with the inside visible when they are cooked and safe to consume. Discard any unopened mussels.
For more information about when you should not eat mussels and why check out my post here!
Step six – Packaging
It is best to remove cooked mussels from the shell first and then place them in a freezer-safe container. You can also store the mussels in the shell if you prefer, but this will take up a lot of space in your freezer, and shells do not play any significant part in the freezing process.
Cooked mussels can also be stored with the sauce in which they were prepared. Simply pour the sauce over the mussels before placing them in the freezer container.
You can also use aluminum foil to store cooked mussels. Just make sure the mussels are properly sealed in the foil before storing them, or place the foil in a freezer-safe container.
Plastic deli containers should work fine with aluminum foil. Additionally, containers must be air-tight to ensure as much of the original taste and texture can be recreated during the reheating process.
Step seven – Freezing
Be sure to place the mussels in the freezer on the top of the freezer or somewhere you will see them. This is necessary because you will need to consume them quickly as their shelf life is very short. Mussels should last up to three months when using this method.
Can you freeze mussels in sauce
Mussels may be frozen with the sauce in which they were prepared. The most popular method of cooking mussels is a white wine sauce with garlic and herbs.
Another popular method is to cook mussels in a marinara sauce. This type of sauce also stores well with mussels in an air-tight freezer container.
The way you freeze mussels in sauce is very simple, place the mussels in the container and pour the sauce over the mussels before sealing the container and freezing the mussels.
How long are mussels good for in a freezer
If properly stored and using the proper storage methods and containers, mussels can be kept in the freezer for two to three months.
It should be mentioned that this is the best method of storing clams, and the clams are at their best when properly used during this period. Mussels stored at 0°F (-17°C) should keep indefinitely.
Can you eat mussels after being frozen
Many people wonder, can you eat frozen mussels that are open. Cooked mussels that have been stored in their shells in the freezer are open and can be eaten without hesitation.
Fresh mussels that have been frozen may open during transport. These mussels are safe to prepare and eat.
If the mussels were closed before freezing and are open after freezing, this should not be a problem. The mussels were alive before freezing and died during freezing. As long as the mussels were alive before freezing, they should be safe to eat.
How to defrost mussels
Many seafood lovers wonder: Do you thaw mussels before cooking? This is a controversial question. Many believe that mussels should be allowed to thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating or cooking.
This is to ensure the optimal flavor and texture of the mussels. If you are short on time, you can pour warm water over the container to speed up the thawing process. However, for mussels taken out of the shell, this is the optimal method.
For mussels that have been frozen in their shells, it is best to steam them in a pan directly from the freezer.
The storage of mussels is very important to ensure that the mussels remain fresh and suitable for consumption. Proper handling and storage is critical to prevent the mussels from spoiling or, worse, if you eat contaminated mussels. Air-tight, freezer-safe containers, resealable, freezer-safe plastic bags, and aluminium foil are great for freezing cooked and uncooked mussels.